The GI Bill was originally drafted following WWII with the belief that those who defend our country should be able to experience the many benefits and opportunities America has to offer. Following 9/11 the bill was updated to include new features and benefits for this generation of veterans. On top of covering the full cost of an undergraduate education (including a monthly living allowance and book stipend), the Post 9/11 GI Bill provides active service members the opportunity to transfer unused education benefits (up to 36 months) to a spouse or dependent child.
Who is eligible?
In order to qualify for the GI Bill transfer program you must meet one of the following criteria:
- You are a service member (officer or enlisted, active duty or Selected Reserve) currently serving with at least 6 years of service (at date of transfer request) and you agree to 4 more years of service.
- You have served a minimum of 10 years but cannot serve an additional 4 years due to policy or law.
- There are limited provisions available for retiring service members as well
Who can receive the transferred benefits?
The GI Bill benefits can be transferred to any eligible spouse or child related to an eligible service member. Before they can receive these benefits however, they must first be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (EDERS). If you meet the above-mentioned requirements, a military spouse is eligible to receive transferred benefits immediately. In order for children or dependents to be considered eligible, the service member making the transfer must have served at least 10 years in the Armed Forces. GI Bill benefits can be divided amongst several individuals in varying amounts (for example, if you have a spouse and 2 children, each could receive 12 months worth or one could receive 24 months and the two could receive 6 months each).
Important things to consider:
- Spouses can use education benefits for up to 15 years after the service member has retired from active duty. Children are not restricted by the 15 year limit, however they are no longer eligible after the age of 26.
- Spouses are not considered eligible to receive the monthly housing allowance and book stipend while the service member is still on active duty. However, children are eligible to receive these benefits as long the member is still on active duty.
- Spouses are still eligible to receive benefits even after legally divorcing the service member as long as both parties agree.
- Children must have received their high school diploma (or equivalent) or have reached the age of 18 in order to receive benefits. They are also still considered eligible once they have married (as long as they are under the age of 26).
- The service member can allocate, cancel or adjust benefits at any time. The benefits will always belong to the service member and therefore it is their right to use as they so choose.